Tomb Raider (Xbox 360) review
"Tomb Raider takes everything you think you know about one of gaming’s best known franchises, and reinvents it from the ground up."
Lara’s had more than a few turbulent years since an ‘accidental mouse slip’ brought her to prominence almost two decades ago. Championed first by Core Designs, then shipped off to Crystal Dynamics, she’s undergone rewrites, retcons and ever-changing personal tragedies. Her history has been altered often enough, and her relatives resurrected and then killed off under wildly different circumstances enough to make her twisted canon a nightmare to follow. Her mother died at birth, then she died on a ship instead, then she’s alive, except she’s not. Lara’s even been killed off herself once; that lasted all of a year. It’s somewhat ironic, then, that in her ever-shifting landscape of dead ends and unresolved cliff-hangers that it’s in going right back to the beginning that she changes the most.
Tomb Raider is one of these series reboots you see everywhere you look, and, as such, Lara’s no longer the ice queen she’s often portrayed as (aside from that awful period they tried to rewrite her as a flirty archaeology floozy we all seem to pretend never happened). She’s younger, fresher, no longer has twin guns glued to her hands, no longer wears the khaki equivalent of hot pants and her head is actually bigger than her bust. These are noteworthy changes, but should never be the focus. In this outing, Lara is raw, inexperienced and naďve, shipwrecked on an island filled with hostiles who want her and the people she cares about dead. It’s a situation that forces her to do the unthinkable constantly to survive, and the incidents that play out are unapologetically gritty; should rapid currents get the better of her, Lara will be fatally flung into protruding debris that will spear through her throat, leaving her a scant few seconds of life to pointlessly grasp at the protrusion before falling limp. If she’s overcome by wolves, she doesn’t just die; she’s mauled. If she doesn’t manage to fit though an ever decreasing gap during a rock slide, she’s crushed. It’s not a graphic death, but the screen is filled with unforgiving stone and glimpses of a small section of the heroine’s lifeless face. It’s uncomfortable viewing.
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